Lenovo’s ThinkBook 13s is a deliberately intriguing combination of a business notebook with consumer flourishes, aimed at the vaguely-defined space between a home business and a more traditional consumer PC. It largely succeeds.

The ThinkBook 13s (also known as the ThinkBook 13s-IWL) sacrifices just a bit on the performance front for including an 8th-gen Whiskey Lake processor, but places it inside a sturdy chassis with a very good keyboard on top. It includes a combination of legacy USB-A and forward-looking USB-C ports, an excellent audio system, with decent battery life. And at a price hovering between $700 to $800, you’re left with a pretty solid midrange laptop for general use.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s back Mark Hachman / IDG

The bold branding signals that this isn’t strictly a business laptop.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s: Basic specs

Lenovo claims that the suggested retail price of the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s we tested is over $1,100, but we couldn’t find a single price suggesting it was over $1,000. Online, the prices we saw at press time averaged about $800 or slightly less, and should eventually fall. Otherwise, there’s a healthy mix of features catering to consumers and small businesses. 

  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920×1080) IPS anti-glare (non-touch)
  • Processor: Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-8265U (Whiskey Lake) (as tested); 1.8GHz Core i7-8565U
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620
  • Memory: 4GB-16GB DDR4 2400MHz (8GB as tested)
  • Storage: 128-512GB M.2 SSD PCI-E NVMe (256GB as tested)
  • Ports: 2 USB Type A (USB 3.1 Gen 1) 1 USB-C (Gen 2, DisplayPort), HDMI 1.4b, 3.5mm jack 
  • Camera: 720p HD Camera (user-facing), fixed-focus
  • Battery: 45Wh, 78Wh 
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (2×2); Bluetooth 5.0
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions: 12.11 x 8.52 x 0.63 inches (15.9mm)
  • Weight: 2.9 pounds, 3.6 pounds with charger (measured)
  • Color: Aluminum
  • Additional features: Fingerprint sensor inside power button
  • Price:  $1,189 MSRP (Lenovo.com) with coupon $713.49; $749 at NeweggAmazon: $754. Other configurations range from $1,049 to $1,649 MSRP on Lenovo.com.

Lenovo’s ThinkBook 13s manages to exude an aura of stability while still not breaking your back. It’s chunky, though not overly heavy. Officially, it’s made of aluminum and magnesium metal and sports a Mineral Grey finish, with a zinc-alloy hinge. I couldn’t discern any keyboard flex, and the display steadfastly refused to flop about while shaking it.

While it’s not a 2-in-1, the attractive IPS display folds back flat. Total luminosity is 301 nits maximum, close to but exceeding the 250-260 nits we consider appropriate for daily use. Note that our review model was not equipped with a touchscreen.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s right side Mark Hachman / IDG

A pair of USB Type A ports adorns the right side of the chassis….

A generous vent underneath the chassis helps pull air from the outside, venting it out through the back of the chassis via a small grille running along one half of the hinge’s length. I did notice a slight fan whine while it was running, which can kick in—though very quietly—even during mundane, innocuous tasks such as typing this sentence.

Officially, the ThinkBook 13s is built to withstand dousing with up to 2 ounces of water, extreme temperatures, and vibrations. (We didn’t test any of those claims.) The hinge has been tested for up to 25,000 open-close cycles, Lenovo says—about 8 times per day for 8 years.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s left side Mark Hachman / IDG

…while a more complex arrangement of USB-C and a HDMI port is mounted on the left. Note that there is no ethernet jack, so you’ll have to use Wi-Fi or a dongle.

A practical number of ports split the difference between the consumer and business user. On the left, there’s a plain-jane USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, (without Thunderbolt capabilities) a full-size HDMI 1.4b port, a headphone/mic 3.5mm jack, as well as a proprietary power plug—one of the only slightly disappointing features on the ThinkBook 13s. On the right, Lenovo has include a pair of USB 3.1 Type A ports, managing the transition between the Type A and Type C generations. One of the Type A ports is labeled with a small battery, alerting you that it can be used to charge a phone or other device, even while the laptop is otherwise powered off. Lenovo doesn’t pack in any adapter dongles within the ThinkBook box.



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